Pet water fountains are the ideal solution for people whose pets don’t drink enough water and they’re also much more hygienic than standard bowls. Animals, and especially cats, are far more likely to drink from a moving water source (we’ll explain why later) and the flow reduces the build up of contaminants.
Drinking water fountains have seen a rise in popularity in recent years and it’s not just a pet-accessory fad - choosing a water fountain can hold benefits for pet-health due to the fact that pets find moving water more appealing. While no-one really knows why with any certainty, it’s theorized that this harks back to the days when our domestic pets roamed wild. Still water would often prove to be stagnant while running water was a safer option.
Anna Korzeniowska, a doctoral researcher at the University of Sussex’s Dog Lab, explains; “Water fountains ensure the water is fresh or at least appears fresh. The 'moving' bit is to do with the fact that it’s not stagnant, so less likely to contain harmful substances. Cats are known to be especially fussy about their drinking water – dogs much less so.”
If you’re worried your pet isn’t drinking enough, Anna has some further advice, pointing out that the physiology of humans is very similar to that of dogs and cats. “Straw-colored urine is good, while dark urine would be a warning sign,” she says.
Pet drinking fountains offer some advantages to pet owners as well as their pets, the biggest being that they avoid the need to continually check and refill a pet’s water bowl. If you think these advantages are something you and your pet would benefit from, browse through six of the best pet fountains we could find and see if any fit the bill.
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PetsRadar's pick of the best pet water fountains
PetSafe Drinkwell 3.7 litre Pet Fountain
Best for capacity
Mains powered?: Yes | Capacity: 3.7L | Designed for: Medium to large dogs | Filter: Carbon
This fountain is ideal for both medium-to-large dogs and large (or big-boned, to avoid offense) cats, and although there are fountains with higher capacities, this one strikes the perfect balance – it’s big enough to keep your pet hydrated for hours on end, but compact enough to allow furry friends to rehydrate without the risk of an accidental dunking. As with all fountains, its main selling point is the constant stream of water – in this case, a flow that can be customized depending on the preferences of your pet. The smooth, molded interior is easy to clean, although the same can’t be said for the pump, which (like any water fountain pump) needs to be cleaned regularly to remove any build-ups of saliva or fur – we recommend using a small wire brush for this one. Luckily, the combination of a sponge and carbon filter (which should ideally replaced once a month) does a great job of keeping the water clean and clear.
PetSafe Drinkwell Butterfly Pet Fountain
Best for appearance
Mains powered?: Yes | Capacity: 1.5L | Designed for: Small dogs | Filter: Carbon
A brilliant option for small dogs and cats, this day-glo water fountain is ideal for the style-savvy pet owner. To start with, its spout is topped with a model of a butterfly, and the retina-burning shade of turquoise offers a welcome alternative to the varying shades of grey used for many pet fountains. Four-legged friends won’t need to form an orderly queue, either – four water spouts make it easy for multiple animals to rehydrate simultaneously, although you can also pop off the butterfly topper to create a single water spout. Cleaning this fountain is also incredibly easy – simply take it apart and place the plastic pieces in the dishwasher. The pump needs a quick manual clean twice a month.
Pioneer Pet Raindrop Plastic Pet Fountain - 1.8 litres
Best for style and price
Mains powered?: Yes | Capacity: 1.8L | Designed for: Small and medium-size dogs | Filter: Charcoal
Bring some harmony to your household with this pretty dog fountain, which has a yin and yang-inspired shape. The water spout is less like a fountain and more like a gentle trickle – instead of being ejected into the air, the water flows down a narrow channel into a generously-sized bowl. The downside is that the spout isn’t the most accessible one we’ve seen, especially for smaller dogs and cats. On the plus side, Pioneer Pet gets a gold star for the ease with which this can be assembled, as well as the super strong suction cups – nothing’s worse than a full-to-the-brim pet fountain sloshing its way across a kitchen floor.
Petkit Smart Drinking Fountain
Best for keeping water clean
Mains powered?: Yes | Capacity: 2L | Designed for: Medium to large dogs | Filter: carbon
A brilliant option for discerning doggies and cosseted cats, this hi-tech water fountain does it all – there are multiple settings (the one you’re most likely to settle on is smart mode, which works on a five-minute cycle, welling up every three minutes before a two-minute rest), a noise-minimizing pump (it produces less than 40db per 50cm radius) and what’s known as an ion-exchange resin, which helps to de-ionize the water. Whether your pet will notice this particular benefit remains to be seen, but two features which definitely earn this fountain some brownie points are the alerts – the light which appears when the filter needs changing, and the alarm which sounds when the water needs topping up.
PetSafe Current Pet Fountain Small
Best for multiple pets
Mains powered?: Yes | Capacity: 1.2L | Designed for: Small dogs | Filter: Charcoal
A great fountain for pets who need a little encouragement to drink enough water, but who might be unnerved by hi-tech fountains which flash, beep and vibrate, this minimalist model might not nab first place in the looks department, but it does what it says on the tin – ensuring your pet has an easily accessible, constant flow of filtered water. Its low profile and dog bowl-inspired shape are less likely to unsettle dogs and cats, although our one gripe is the positioning of the pump – despite the deepness of this fountain’s bowl, the hardware has been placed near the rim, which means you’ll need to keep a close eye on water levels to ensure it doesn’t run dry.
Zeus Dog Drinking Fountain
Best for dogs who live life in the slow lane
Mains powered?: Yes | Capacity: 6L | Designed for: Large dogs | Filter: Carbon
This bucket-style fountain is great for larger dogs, especially ones with mobility issues. This is because the water isn’t emitted in the form of a vertical jet, but a gentle stream which swirls around the fountain’s raised platform, before draining away down the sides. In other words, there’s a constant, gently-swirling pool of water for pets to sip from, and with a six-liter capacity, you won’t need to refill it regularly. Which is especially handy with this model, because the one major downside is the inability to monitor water levels – unlike most water fountains, there’s no open bowl area, so you’ll only know when it’s time to refill once the water runs out.
How to choose the best pet water fountain
Although many water fountains for pets have similar features, our research proved that certain ones are invaluable – the best ones are easy to dismantle and clean, simply because it’s all too easy to underestimate the pump and filter-clogging capabilities of pet saliva, dander and fur.
A device designed to keep water levels topped up also needs some level of stability. With lighter models, grip patches on the base will often be enough to keep the water fountain in place, but with heavier fountains, nothing beats a set of suction cups.
It’s also important to bear in mind that the most common reason people invest in a pet fountain is because of the time it can save – constantly filling your pet’s bowl is thirsty work (excuse the pun). This is precisely why we suggest looking for features designed to save time and minimize stress levels, whether it’s an alarm which sounds when water levels need topping up, a light which indicates the need for a replacement filter, or design which can be easily broken down into dishwasher-proof pieces.
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